Caring for a Senior Cat

March 14, 2011
Comments (3)

Many cats begin to mature and lose some of their kitten-ness around 4 years of age. They may not try to climb the curtains like they once did or jump from the top of the fridge to the floor anymore. However, many cats don’t enter their senior phase till after 10 years of age. Many cats, especially dark cats, may start to get gray and white hairs but there are other signs that your cat is aging.

Some signs that your cat is getting older can be that he sleeps more than he used to, the fur is thinner, hearing may not seem as sharp, and playtime is not as rambunctious and doesn’t last as long as it used to. These changes occur slowly over time and you may not notice the changes till you look back over the years you’ve spent with your furry feline.

Senior cats need to see their vet for annual checkups to make sure they are still healthy or need some extra TLC as they age. Some cats may need more frequent checkups as they age. As cats get older, the vet care changes somewhat as well. Vets will do a senior profile to test for the beginning stages of problems such as kidney failure, hyperthyroidism, or urinary problems.

Common Health Issues in Older Cats

Some health issues that your vet can detect early on with a checkup are:

1: cancer

2: arthritis

3: diabetes

4: kidney disease

5: liver disease

6: skin problems

7: hearing problems

8: dental and eye problems

9: urinary problems

10: obesity

11: digestive issues

As cats get older, their dietary needs can change. They may need a lower fat food, a food that helps prevent crystals in their urinary tract, higher protein, or more water. Also, senior cats have a harder time regulating their body temperature and more care needs to be taken to keep them dry and warm. Senior cats may need to be kept indoors during the winter and rainy months and summer time they may need to have shortened periods outside since they can also suffer heatstroke faster than a younger cat.

Senior cats also may need more grooming care as some places become harder to reach as their body gets a bit stiffer. Brushing your cat helps stimulate their circulation and gland secretions. Also, if you notice your cat isn’t as nimble as he used to be, help him out if he still likes to jump up on the windowsill with a “ladder” or pet stairs. You can also purchase a cat tree that has low levels that he can use to get from point A to point B.

Senior cats also tend to become more affectionate, dependent on your attention, and more vocal. They may want to snuggle more, crawl under the covers with you, or sit on your lap more. As much as it may not always be convenient or welcome by you depending what you are doing, make sure to give your cat some extra TLC. You’ll know he’s happy by his purring and slow blinking.


Filed under: Advice,cats
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3 Responses to “Caring for a Senior Cat”

  1. Liz says:

    My cat will be 8 years old in July of this year, and I have noticed that he is not eating as well as he used to. He has always been very finicky about the foods he would eat, and he is starting to take only 4 or 5 bites of the food and leave it now. I take him to the vet for regular checkups, so should I be worried?

  2. Diane says:

    I loved this article. It is so true. I have a 17 1/2 year old cat. We do provide stairs for him to get on the couch as well as a set for our bed. He loves it. I also provide him (through my vet of course), holistic pain medications. Per my vet, this is the main reason why Senior Cats seems to lay around. My boy is more vocal as you stated but still plays and hunts his toy mouse and bird at night. I wouldn’t trade any of it! Thanks for the great article!!!

  3. Kathy says:

    check his teeth. sometimes if their teeth are dirty or if there’s some infection or swelling, it can be painful to eat. If your cat eats dry food, try switching to wet or adding a little water to the dry food to soften it.

    cats also lose their appetite when they are stressed.

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