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As a feline parent, there comes a day when you find yourself caring for a senior cat. That’s right, it’s time to talk about geriatric cat care. Our senior felines need a different type of love from the days when they were young and spritely.
Keeping a close eye on a senior cat is important to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle in their golden years. This is especially the case since they are more suseptible to diseases. With this in mind, we’re going to share a few tips for when you are caring for a furry friends who is long in the whiskers.
1 – Schedule Regular Checkups
Even if your senior cat appears healthy, it is important to take them for regular checkups. Think of it a bit like an MOT for your kitty friend, all might seem fine, but a look under the hood is always the best approach as cats can age fast.
It is recommended that you take your cat for a checkup every 6 months when she reaches the ripe age of 10 – 15 years. Go for checkups every 4 months if you cat is more senior than 15 years old. This will allow your vet to detect the early signs of disease, and an unwell cat.
Your vet should get to know your cat pretty well over the months. Any subtle changes will be easier for them to observe, as they know all about caring for a senior cat.
2 – Make Your Home Senior Kitty Friendly
Senior cat care is a little different, and you will need to create a different environment that suits their changing needs.
Start by placing multiple sources of food, water, bedding, and even litter trays around the home. This makes it easier for them to go when they want to, eat when they feel the need, and sleep when it suits them.
To help them eat easier, raise their food bowls to a comfortable level so they don’t need to bend to eat or drink. This can make a big difference to a cat with degenerative joint disease.
Cats of all ages like to groom themselves, but you can reduce the time your senior cat needs to do this by brushing and combing their fur gently.
Give their bed an extra layer of padding to ensure their comfort and always keep their mealtimes consistent so they know exactly when they can get their next meal.
3 – Pay Close Attention To Their Behaviour
A senior cat isn’t exactly going to make it obvious that they are unwell. Changes in behaviour are going to be a good indicator that they are not in good health. The changes can be as subtle as sleeping more than usual, hiding, or even paying your more attention than usual.
These signs should not be ignored. When you notice any changes like this take your kitty to the vet at the earliest opportunity.
4 – Observe Their Eating Habits
Senior cats can easily become underweight because they lose their sense of smell which causes a lack of interest in their catnip. Be sure to observe their eating patterns to see when if they are ignoring a meal and give them multiple sources to get their fill when they feel the need.
Have a read of our article on picky eaters for some useful tips in this area.
A senior cat will prefer food that doesn’t touch their whiskers but if yours becomes a fussy eater, consult your vetenerian.
5 – Look For Changes In Weight
If your cats weight is fluctuating then it is time to call your vet.
Weight gain can can mean your kitty is more susceptible to diseases and may not have the ability too fight them off. Alternatively, weight loss in a geriatric cat can be a sign that something isn’t right. It could even be a sign of diabetes or hyperthyroidism so it is best to consult your veterinarian.
A gradual change can be difficult to spot, which is why part of caring for a senior cat involves monitoring their weight.
6 – Look For Signs Of Pain
Cats are notorious for trying too hide signs of illness and discomfort, so be mindful when caring for a senior cat. If their energy levels are depleted, or if they are sleeping more than usual, it can be a typical sign that they are trying to deal with discomfort.
Some of the typical signs of pain in a senior cat include the following:
- Lying down to eat/drink
- Taking longer to get comfortable when sitting or lying down
- Staying still for longer than usual
- Has difficulty getting up and down steps
- Visibly uncomfortable when jumping
- licking more than usual (particularly over joints)
- Lack of interest in toys, food, or animals outside
- Taking longer to eat
Arthritis and degenerative joint disease are common in senior cats. A vet will be able to see the sigs and come up with a treatment plan for added comfort.
7 – Check Their Litter Tray
Don’t just scoop and throw away. When caring for a senior cat, the little things matter. Is your cats stool changing colour, becoming smaller, softer or harder, or are they defecating at a different rate? All these can be signs of an uncomfortable cat.
If they are soiling around the house, then this can be another sign that you need to take your beloved cat t the vet.
Their urine may even be an indicator of a serious disease, so check that the amount they are urinating hasn’t changed drastically.
8 – Know The Common Signs Of Disease
Understanding the signs of disease can help you catch it early. This can give your senior cat the best chance of survival and living a longer life.
Some of the common signs of disease in senior cats include the following:
- Licking more or less
- Small hard stools in the litter box
- Straining when passing stools
- Lethargic behaviour
- Vomiting or constipation
- Changed in appetite
- Weight loss
- Decreased grooming
- Bleeding or discharge
- Difficult breathing
- Poor coat
- Difficulty jumping or going up and down stairs
Caring for a senior cat means loving the same, but being mindful of their changing needs. Your cat may not have the same spring in their step, but they will have plenty of love to give, and giving yours in return is the least they deserve.
Observe the above tips, and give your senior kitty the best chance of a comfortable life, so both you can enjoy their golden years.