CATS

Caring for an elderly cat

Thanks to improvements in food and health care, cats now often live beyond 12 years of age. Older cats may develop age-related conditions, but with a little extra care your cat can still have a comfortable, happy life.

Home care

You may need to make adaptations to your cat’s diet and living conditions as he ages. Your vet may recommend a “senior” diet, which will supply the correct nutrients for the changes in your cat’s metabolism and digestive processes. Your cat may prefer to eat smaller meals more often during the day. If he seems less interested in eating, try warmer or tastier foods to tempt him. It is also helpful to weigh your cat every 2 weeks; older cats can gain excess weight due to inactivity, or lose weight due to difficulty with eating or conditions such as hyperthyroidism.

Your cat may need help with grooming hard-to-reach places, so brush a few times a week to make him comfortable. Clip his claws regularly because they can grow harder with age and become overgrown if he is not very active.

If your cat is becoming less agile, put his food and water bowls and a litter tray on the floor, in quiet places where he won’t be disturbed. Use boxes or furniture as “stepping stones” to help your cat reach his favorite perches or windowsills.

Have many heat, , comfortable cat beds around your home, in places where your cat already enjoys sleeping. If your cat is having trouble with soiling, use washable beds or cardboard boxes lined with newspaper that can be thrown away.

Even if your cat still prefers to urinate and defecate outdoors, it is wise to have litter trays in the house. Your cat may become less keen on going outdoors, either to avoid other cats or because he no longer has the urge to explore.

Even associate previous cat still likes to possess fun . Playing with your cat helps to keep his mind active and allows him to express his natural instincts, although you will have to play more gently than before.

“Let the vet know if you have noticed any changes in your cat’s normal activities.”

Senior cat clinics

As your cat grows older he will need more frequent health checks. Many veterinary practices now offer clinics for older cats, to detect and deal with age-related health problems.

Your vet will be able to advise you on your cat’s ideal body weight, and on diet and nutritional supplements. Let the vet know if you have noticed any changes in your cat’s normal activities, as these could signal the start of
health problems.

The vet may carry out basic tests such as urine and blood tests, to identify problems such as kidney disease. There are many treatments now available to help manage chronic conditions even senility. The vet or practice nurse
can also facilitate with tasks like clipping claws.

Warning signs

You will need to keep a closer eye on your cat to detect any alterations in his normal habits. In particular, you should let your vet know if you notice any of the following changes.

Watch for any increase in appetite, with your cat seeming ravenously hungry but losing weight even with regular meals. In contrast, if your cat is obviously hungry but turns away from certain foods (especially hard foods), or paws at his mouth, he may have problems with his teeth or with swallowing.

Increased thirst may cause your cat to use the litter tray more than usual, and start drinking from odd places, such as ponds and bathtub faucets. An elderly cat may also become dehydrated. Check by grasping the scruff of the neck and letting go. The skin should fall back instantly; if it does not, the cat may not be getting enough liquid.

Alert your vet if your cat is straining or crying when he passes feces or urine, or if he starts having “accidents” in the home.

Stiff joints or arthritis can cause difficulty with running and jumping, and your cat may become unable to groom his back and rear end. As he ages, your cat may lose his vision, causing him to bump into things or misjudge heights. A cat that is feeling very ill or showing signs of dementia may
become more withdrawn or aggressive, hide away, or meow more than usual.

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