As your cat becomes older, you have to modify how you care for and deal with your aging feline. All cats deserve the best care possible, but senior cats need a little more of it because of their age and any health issues they may have.
As your cat gets older, expect a different set of health requirements that you’ll need to consider and adjust to.
How Old is a Senior Cat?
An aging or older cat is often classified as a senior feline. A cat that is 11 to 14 years old has reached its senior years.
Previously, felines that reached the 8-year mark were already senior cats. However, thanks to continuous improvements in cat food and advancements in veterinary medicine, they can now enjoy life spans of up to 20 years.
Caring for Senior Cats
You can't expect an aging cat to be as playful as a kitten. As they get older, you’ll notice that they tend to laze around more while enjoying their environment and home.
A senior cat doesn't always mean a sick and frail cat. As the owner, it’s up to you to make adjustments and take preventive measures to ensure that you and your cat will enjoy as many years together as possible.
Here’s 6 helpful tips how you can care for your elderly cat:
#1. Let Your Cat Spend More Time Indoors
Adult cats love to explore the outdoors. In fact, many cats are in the habit of disappearing for hours only to return home at the end of the day after a good hunt and exploration of the neighborhood.
For senior cats, it’s recommended that they be kept as close to home as possible. You can allow them outdoors but they should always be under your supervision. According to veterinarian Dr. Ruth MacPete, cats that are kept exclusively inside the home live longer and are healthier. It’s a pretty significant difference too since cats who are allowed to roam on their own typically live averagely 5 years while cats kept inside the home live for 13 to 17.
Admittedly, it can be quite an adjustment for a cat that’s gotten used to coming in and out as it pleases but as long as you make its indoor environment fun and stimulating, your cat will settle in eventually.
Despite being inside the home with the entire family, always give your cat sufficient space and privacy.
#2. Give Your Cat an Age-Appropriate Diet
Since senior cats lose a bit of their mobility with age, they become more prone to obesity and weight gain. To prevent this, talk to your vet about possible changes in your senior cat's diet.
Being overweight can add stress to your cat's body and make them vulnerable to joint pain, liver disease, and diabetes.
Expect your cat’s digestive system to slow down as well so they may not be able to process food as well as before. This can give rise to issues like diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues.
Always give your cat a balanced diet that is appropriate for its age.
#3. Don’t Skip Vet Visits
Commit to taking your cat for regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations. More than ever, these health screenings are necessary because it allows you to adopt preventive measures by cluing you in on possible health conditions before they become problematic.
#4 . Dental Care
As our beloved felines age, they become more prone to dental disease. If you haven’t started already, get your cat used to having its teeth brushed even if it entails some adjustment the first few weeks. Alternatively, you can use edible enzyme toothpaste instead of brushing for more difficult cats.
#5 . Exercise
Cats naturally become more sedentary as they age, however, it’s still important that they get some form of exercise to keep them healthy and prevent serious medical conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
The idea is to keep them moving in creative ways. You can try using cat toys, lasers for cats, cat trees and treats. You will know what works best to get your cats moving.
#6 . Hygiene
Mobility declines in cats as they age, just as it does in humans. If you are currently using covered or high-walled litter boxes, consider switching to a basic litter box with a low entry for easier access. It is also best to use the most natural litter possible, which is why we recommend our Original litter.
Also, some older cats may be sluggish when it comes to grooming, so this is where you come in to assist them in combing and brushing their hair daily to clean and minimize hairball indigestion.
Your Cat As It Ages: Making the Latter Years Healthy and Comfortable
You have to be sensitive, more understanding, and open to change as your cat grows older. You’ve spent a lot of good years together. Now that your cat is facing its latter years with you, it’s up to you to make aging as healthy and comfortable as possible.