According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, a cat is considered to be “senior” between the ages of 11 and 14. A “mature” cat is between 7 and 10 years of age, and a “geriatric” cat is 15+ years of age. Whatever official age category your cat falls into, all older cats can benefit from a little extra care and attention. Here are a few practical tips on senior cat care from the AAFP.
1. Consider taking your senior cat to the vet for a routine checkup every 6 months instead of every year. 6 months is roughly the equivalent of 2 human years.
2. Pay close attention to your cat’s habits and routines. Cats are good at hiding pain and illness so be sure to note any changes in sleeping, eating, litter box, and general behavior habits.
3. See your vet if your older cat experiences any significant weight loss or weight gain. Weight loss in particular can be an indicator of a serious health problem.
4. A decreased ability to jump and play could be a sign of arthritis, and not simply normal aging. Talk to your vet about arthritis and its possible treatments.
5. Check the litter box for signs of constipation, increased urination, and accidents outside of the box, all of which can be common indicators of underlying health problems in older cats.
6. Be sure to provide your senior cat with easy access to lots of warm, soft places to sleep.
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7. Gently brush or comb your senior cat’s fur on a regular basis, as cats can become less flexible and less able to groom properly with age. Don’t forget about nail trimming and tooth brushing, too.
8. Continue to provide your senior cat with lots of affection and mental stimulation like play, petting, and cuddles.
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