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Life seemed like one big adventure when your cat was still a kitten. But in your cat's senior years, caring for it takes more effort. In this article, we'll give you old cat care advice so you can give your cat the best care possible as it enters its seniority.
Caring for an aging cat can be incredibly rewarding. Your pet might not be as active as it used to be, but they still depend on you. You can give them all the love and care they need and deserve.
Aging is a natural part of life, and cats, as individuals, experience old age in different ways. Cats can live to 20 years, although the average lifespan is usually in the teens. You can expect age-related changes when your cat reaches 8 or 9 years old.
It's no secret that cats age more quickly than humans, but sometimes you may not be sure if your furry friend is reaching the senior years—or what the signs of aging in cats might be. Knowing the signs of aging in cats will help you identify when your pet may need extra care and support.
Here are a few key signs to look out for:
Cats sleep more – particularly during the day – as they get older.
Health conditions can make it harder for cats to jump or climb like they used to. It's also common to see a decrease in running and playing.
Sudden, unexplained weight loss could indicate health issues in older cats, so paying attention is essential.
Senior cats don't always keep themselves as clean as younger ones due to physical limitations, so you may have to give them an extra brushing occasionally.
Watch for changes such as not eating enough food and changes in their favorite snacks or flavors. These can indicate a shift in metabolism that can occur with age.
The best thing you can do is monitor your elderly cat's behavior closely and adjust its diet or lifestyle accordingly. That way, you can ensure your beloved feline companion lives the rest of their life happy and healthy!
The dietary needs of a senior cat can change as it ages. Most cats benefit from a higher protein and fat level as they age.
Foods with vitamins C and E also benefit their health. You should also avoid foods with fillers or added preservatives, which can be difficult for your cat to digest.
It's also important to watch your cat's caloric intake. While the exact calorie requirements might vary from cat to cat, it's generally advised that senior cats get fewer calories than kittens or adult cats.
Consider reducing the portion size if your pet is gaining weight or supplementing their diet with low-calorie snacks like raw vegetables or fruits like blueberries and strawberries.
Finally, ensure your pet has plenty of water throughout the day. Many cats find running water more enticing than still water, so a fountain may be ideal. Providing them with clean water will ensure they stay hydrated and healthy in their golden years!
Exercise and mental stimulation are crucial to keeping your senior cat healthy. Regular exercise helps keep their bones, muscles, and joint pain at bay, while mental stimulation aids in keeping your cat's mind sharp.
While it may be hard for your senior cat to move around as much as it used to, there are still ways you can keep them active. Here are some activities you can do with your senior cat:
Some activities you can do with your senior cat include playing interactive games, offering toys for mental stimulation, and playing outdoors in safe cat enclosures.
You can also offer them scratching posts or create vertical spaces in which they can explore and play around.
Aging cats may not have the same energy levels as they did in their prime, but that doesn't mean they should be inactive! Exercise and mental stimulation can go a long way in maintaining the comfort of your senior kitty companion - so don't forget to give them the TLC (and playtime!) they need!
Taking your senior cat for regular check-ups to your veterinarian is essential. They can help identify any issues your cat might have, like changes in weight, hearing, or vision loss.
Discuss with your veterinarian any new habits that you've noticed that could be related to old age or a potential medical condition.
Your vet should become familiar with your senior cat's health and will likely recommend regular blood tests and other diagnostic tests as necessary.
Blood work can detect conditions like diabetes and kidney disease that are more common in cats over ten years old. This can help provide early diagnosis and treatment, which is better for both the cat's health and your finances in the long run.
Geriatric cats can have many medical problems that younger cats don't. Awareness of the common diseases associated with aging felines is essential.
One of the most common diseases in senior cats is arthritis. This causes joint pain and stiffness. You may recognize signs like difficulty getting up or jumping, limping, and hiding or sleeping more than usual.
Kidney disease is another common issue in older cats which can cause digestive upset and lethargy. Common symptoms are increased thirst and urination, vomiting, change in appetite, and weight loss.
If you think your cat might have kidney disease, you must make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment options.
Older cats often experience dental problems. As cats age, their teeth and gums become more sensitive to damage and infection. Cats with dental disease may experience pain and difficulty eating.
If untreated, dental disease can lead to tooth loss, infections, and even more severe health problems such as heart disease.
It's important to remember that these issues are relatively common for older cats, and many treatments are available to help them have a better quality of life!
Suppose your senior cat has been diagnosed with a health condition or is starting to have difficulty moving around. In that case, you'll want to be extra vigilant about managing their pain and discomfort. You know your cat, so trust your instincts if something seems wrong.
Ensure your old furball has a cozy place to rest in an area that offers peace. Soft materials and cushioning can help ease pressure on their joints.
Invest in special ramps and stairs to help them access certain parts of your home or areas they used to enjoy visiting but now may have difficulty reaching due to age-related issues.
Monitor how well they move around, as this can change over time. If you notice them having trouble with everyday tasks, like jumping onto the couch, try to assist where possible so they don't strain themselves too much.
Believe it or not, grooming and hygiene are still important for your aging cat. Cats generally care for their grooming needs, but as a loving owner, you should also be mindful of their age-related changes.
Use a mild shampoo when you do need to bathe your cat. Avoid shampooing too often, as it may dry out your pet's skin. Gently brush your cat daily to help them stay clean and free of mats.
Cut their nails every 4 to 6 weeks; use clippers with a guard to prevent accidentally cutting too close to the roots. Also, don't forget to keep their things clean, from toys and bowls for food and water to their litter boxes!
Additionally, you can use an ear-cleaning solution and cotton swabs to clean your cat's ears once a week; this helps reduce the risk of infection.
It may take a bit more time than usual with an elderly cat, but taking care of their hygiene needs can be an enjoyable bonding experience for both you and them!
It's recommended that your senior cat visits the vet at least twice a year for a complete check-up. However, if you notice any changes in your cat's behavior or health, schedule an appointment immediately with your vet.
It is essential to adjust your senior cat's diet as they age to ensure they get the right amount of protein and fewer calories than they're used to since their activity level has likely decreased over time. As always, checking with your veterinarian before switching your senior cat's food is best.
You can help encourage your senior kitty by providing toys specifically designed for cats of all ages, such as interactive toys and scratching posts. Additionally, you can give soft beds or baskets for them to sleep in throughout the day and night, which will also help keep them warm and comfortable.
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