It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the needs of an elderly cat are quite different from those of a young feline. But the questions is, how do you identify if your beloved cat is already a senior?
Commonly, cats over the age of seven to 10 years are considered elderly cats. And as they advance in age, there will be changes that naturally occur in their bodies. For example, if you start to notice your cat becoming less active, it may be because he has developed arthritis.
Without proper care, good nutrition through top-quality cat food and regular vet visits, your cat’s health will be at risk, and the number of happy, healthy years your cat has left to spend with you can become greatly reduced — and both are things you would want to do your best to prevent.
Here’s how you should care for your elderly cat to help him enjoy the peak of his life.
1. Schedule regular check-ups
While your cat is still healthy, develop a good relationship with your veterinarian. This way, he can get to know your cat better and detect any subtle changes that indicate a health disease. Up-to-date cat vaccinations, including boosters and non-core vaccinations, are important to maintain good health and protect your pet against certain diseases.
As cats age, they need to visit the vet more often, preferably every six months. Even if your pet seems healthy, there may be an underlying cause that isn’t visible to the eye, so it’s always better to go for routine checkups.
To help your senior cat stay comfortable during your visit to the vet, consider these tips.
- Reduce the stress that comes with vet visits by making his carrier truly comfortable. You can do this by placing a soft and familiar bedding. This will make it easier to get your cat into the carrier on your appointment day. You could even try a cat backpack carrier for extra comfort and a less bumpy ride.
- Leave early on the day of your visit so you have plenty of time to arrive at the vet clinic and both you and cat can feel calm and unhurried.
- Ask if the vet clinic has a waiting area where you can go to stay your pet calm, perhaps away from other pets.
- Prepare a set of questions for any concerns you want to ask your vet during your cat’s checkup.
2. Monitor eating habits
The nutritional needs of older cats will change. Monitor your pet’s eating habits and discuss his nutrition with your vet. Because of your pet’s age, you should be aware of the foods that are toxic to your cat and always make sure that he gets the best cat food every day.
Knowing your cat’s food intake will let you know immediately whenever he’s eating less, which could indicate a health issue. This also helps your veterinarian directly intervene if ever there are problems.
3. Pay attention to changes
Cats are actually experts in hiding illnesses. It’s easy to miss any subtle signs, so if you notice any change in behaviour, don’t ignore it. Keep track of changes by listing them down and share them with your vet.
Even in their old age, there’s no excuse to not make time to exercise your senior cat. More than ever, your pet needs to maintain a healthy weight to avoid chronic diseases. You know your pet better than anyone, so make sure to report any changes to your veterinarian.
4. Provide special accommodations
There will be a need to make adjustments in your home for your elderly cat. He’ll be needing warmth and extra padding for comfort, so make certain to provide a soft sleeping place. Make your cat’s sleeping area is easily accessible as well by adding ramps, stepping stools and other tools to assist him in his movements.
If your cat has arthritis, he’ll benefit from a litter box with lower sides for easy access. Make sure that food and water bowls are also reachable. It’s vital that you don’t force your arthritic cat to stress himself in going up and down stairs to drink, eat, or use his litter box.
5. Enjoy your bond
The bond you have with your elderly cat is special and is something that your pet craves. A senior cat needs more attention than he had in his early life. Continuously provide mental and physical stimulation by playing and interacting with your feline.
Health enrichment is important for senior cats as well as for felines of all ages. Start taking care of a pet from youth to ensure he has a healthy foundation that will benefit him as he gets older. Above all, give your now-senior feline enough medical care and attention so he can live the best moments of his life with you.