As veterinary science improves, and cat foods become more nutritious and better suited to felines, cats are living longer and longer. It’s not uncommon for cats to live upwards of 16, even 20, years. The happy result is that we get to spend many extra years with our beloved pets and that they stay healthy and active much longer than before.
In their advanced years, however, some changes may occur in your kitty’s body, their mood, and their mind. These changes can affect how they behave, and how they interact with you. Understanding these changes will help ensure your cat’s senior years are comfortable and happy for both of you.
Aging cats are not as agile as they once were. They aren’t able to jump as high, run or play as long, and sometimes they won’t even want to climb stairs. This loss in energy is a normal part of your pet getting older, as is sleeping more, and interacting with the family less.
In addition to this normal reduction in activity, lethargy can indicate other underlying conditions more serious than simple old age. Arthritis, kidney disease, and dental problems are all issues that turn up as apparent lethargy when really they may be issues that you can treat to make your cat more comfortable. Here's what you need to know about caring for your senior cat.
As your cat begins to slow down, they should in most cases consume fewer calories. Adding vitamins will help boost their immune system. Be sure to stay on top of your cat’s weight, as both over- and underweight cats can develop digestive issues. Also pay attention to when and how your cat is using the litter box. Dietary adjustments can help address digestive issues that may appear in later years.
In addition to wellness and diet adjustments, the right products can make getting older more comfortable for your feline companion.
Soft bedding can ease arthritis or other bone and joint conditions that make lying on hard flooring uncomfortable. Climbing aids can assist older cats who cannot jump as they once did, but who still want to get to their favorite perches, or even into litter boxes. Building steps or lowering sitting spots for these pets can make a big difference. You may also want to consider a litter box that's easier to get into.
Adjustments to Help Your Cat into Their Golden Years
Your cat will undergo shifts in behavior as they age. Just like grandpa, they may become a bit cranky. Changes in the brain can have a large impact on how your aging cat moves through their world.
Be aware that aging cats don’t do as well with changes in environment or routine. Moving or boarding your cat can create a great deal of stress. Should such changes be necessary, make sure to give your cat extra attention and affection to help them cope with the transition, or speak with your vet about options for calming remedies or anti-stress medications.
With these tips in mind, you can help ensure your cat gets all the right care as they enter their senior years.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.