Cats are adorable, playful, very energetic, and mischievous. They are also great companions of humans. When cats are getting older, they become less active and less energetic like humans. Therefore, they need special requirements and special attention to keep them happy and healthy. In humans, members of the family look after their elderly. There is no one else to take care of your kitty cat but you. So, for your senior cat, you are the only hope for a happy long life. As a cat owner, it is essential to be aware of the things you can do to make your adorable senior cat’s life better and comfortable. First of all, you have to know whether your cat is a senior cat or not.
How do you know you have a senior cat?
An average life span of a pet cat is usually 13 to 17 years. Usually, the cats aged over 11 years are known as “senior cats”. A senior cat’s body is weak. Therefore, they can easily get both communicable and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain the good health of your cat, so that your pet can live longer and shower you with love.
When your cat becomes old, you can observe several signs. Some of the cats start to show these signs at about 7 years of age. The following signs will help you to understand your cat is a senior or not.
Senior cat signs
- Having trouble climbing stairs and jumping
Cats are highly active. You might have seen your cat jumping on your furniture, jump from higher places, climb stairs quickly and jumping into their litter box. When your cat becomes older, he might start to refuse all these activities. It might.
- Sleeping most of the time or not at all
Cats are usually active and full of energy. With age, your cat might not be active as he used to be, and that is normal. You can observe that your senior pal sleep most of the time. Sometimes, it could be a sign of an underlying disease too. Sometimes you might have noticed older cats that suddenly seems to have more energy than other senior cats and you might think that is good to have an older pal with much energy, but it is not. If your furry friend overactive he might suffer from hyperthyroidism. Therefore, it is better to take your fluffy pal to a vet regularly.
If your companion seems confused by regular tasks, he used to do such as finding his bed, he might become a senior. This behavior can also be seen in cats who are suffering from a cognitive problem. Therefore, it is better to visit a pet clinic to know the exact reason for this behavior, and if it occurs due to an ailment, your vet will begin treatments.
- Unintentional weight gain or loss
Weight loss can be a sign of many health conditions such as diabetes kidney and heart diseases in older cats. When age moving from adult to senior, some cats’ energy and food requirements can increase, and they might lose weight faster, and the amount of food they eat might not enough to maintain the weight. On the other side, cats’ metabolism and activity level slow down as they grow old. Therefore, they do not need many calories as they needed in their younger stages, and your pal might start to gain weight. Weight gain will lead to serious health conditions. Therefore, when your fluffy pal grows old, it is better to give cat foods for seniors, which will supply an adequate amount of nutrition that maintain your companion’s weight within a healthy range.
- Matted or oily fur
Cats like to stay clean. They spend most of their time on grooming. When your cat grows old, it is more likely to develop health problems like dental issues and arthritis. If your pal is suffering from such issues, he might stop grooming himself and his beautiful fur coat starts to appear oily and matted.
- Behavioral changes
When your cat grows old, your pet has a higher chance of getting many diseases. If you observed that your pal start avoiding humans, and he has accidents he never had before, it might be a sign of an underlying health condition. These behavioral changes occur when they are suffering from pain, confused and depressed. Your veterinarian will help you to figure out the causes of the behavioral changes you noticed.
If your fluffy pal becoming a senior cat, this is the time he needs more attention and care more than any other time. As I mentioned earlier, your cat will not be able to maintain his cleanliness on his own. As your senior pal can get diseases easily, keep in touch with your veterinarian more often and take your cat for health checkups regularly.
Regular health checkups
Considering your cat’s age and general health, your vet will determine the frequency of health checkups that suits your cat. Taking your pet to regular health checkups will be very helpful as if the disease develops in your cat, and your vet can diagnose it early and treat before it gets worse.
If you observe any of the following signs in your senior fluffy pal, contact your vet as soon as possible.
- Weight loss
- Lameness, stiffness, or difficulty in jumping up.
- Bumps or lumps anywhere in the body.
- Difficulty passing urine, feces or toilet accidents.
- Uncharacteristic behavior such as excessive vocalization, aggression, hiding.
- Loss of appetite
- Drinking a larger amount per day or drinking more often
- Balance problems
- Disorientation of distress
Let’s look at the thing you can do at home to maintain your senior’s health.
Homecare for senior cats
When your pal getting old, he cannot groom himself on his own. you can assist him in grooming in many ways.
- Wipe away any discharges around the nose, eyes, and anus. Use separate pieces of cotton wool for each area, and moisten the wool with warm water before using it.
- Take a soft brush and a fine comb. Then brush your senior companion’s fur coat gently. Do not brush vigorously as it might be very painful to your elder cat. Look for any bumps, lumps, sores, and ticks while you are brushing
- Claw trimming
Cats have retractable nails. These nails become less retractable when they grow old. The overgrown less retractable nails are extremely uncomfortable for a cat as their claws can be tangled in furniture and carpets. Sometimes, overgrown nails can be stick into their pads.
Therefore, check your cats’ nails weekly and trim them regularly. When you trim the nails, take your veterinarians advice and training. A small wound in the finger cause bleeding and the wounded area can get infected.
Digestion of older cats is very slow. When hair ingested during grooming, they get stuck in the digestive tract and cause vomiting and constipation in cats. This condition is common in senior cats. You can purchase foods containing special supplement which will help your cat with a hairball.
- Dental checks
When your pal becoming old, he can get dental problems easily. Check for any abnormality in the mouth such as reddening of gums, any growths in gums or teeth, bad breath, chattering jaw, loss of appetite, pawing at the mouth and drooling saliva. These can be signs of dental diseases. If you noticed any, take your fluffy friend to a veterinarian.
- Toilet habits
Provide indoor litter facilities though he can access outdoors. When your cat is getting old, he might not like to go to litter outside as it is cold and damp. Provide a litter tray inside the house and clean it every day. Check for the blood in urine or feces and also check passing feces is normal or he is having diarrhea or constipation. If your cat’s feces contain blood, feces will appear dark brown. If you noticed any change in the litter, take your companion to a vet as soon as possible.
- Encouraging appetite
When your cat grows old, its sense of taste and smell decrease. Therefore, your senior cat might have less appetite. There are several ways in which you could encourage your pet’s appetite.
- Sit with your cat while talking and stroking or try hand feeding. That can increase appetite.
- Offer food more often. Increase the frequency of feeding your cat. Ex- feed your cat 4 to 6 times per day.
- Change the type of bowl you are using to feed your cat. Ex- Your elderly cat might like a shallow, wide bowl, or bowl with a rim.
- Do not leave uneaten wet food for more than one hour.
- Offer food at room temperature. It will increase palatability.
- Raise the food bowl into a box. For instance, it will be comfortable for a cat suffering from osteoarthritis affecting the neck.
- Give soft foods for the elderly cat who are having dental problems.
- Feed with cat foods made for senior cats which meet the nutritious requirements of an elderly cat.
Place a variety of water bowls inside the house inaccessible areas as your elderly cat can get dehydrated easily. Make sure you clean his bowl and change the remaining water daily. You can try different methods to give water and see what your cat prefer. Ex- glass bowl, ceramic bowl, water fountain.
- Older cat-friendly home
You do not have to make big changes in the house to accommodate your senior cat but there are several changes you can do to make your cat feel comfortable.
Climbing stairs is a difficult task for your senior pet. Therefore, your pet might like to stay for prolonged periods either upstairs or downstairs. Make sure your cat has easy access to his basic needs in each story of your house. For instance, keep separate food bowls, water bowls and a litter box in each story.