The Special Needs of Senior Cats

By December 12 | See Comments

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Every cat is unique, much like an individual person. Just as the human population is living longer, so is the feline population. As a result, you can expect age-related concerns to emerge.

A majority of cats start to experience physical changes arising from age around seven to ten years. A majority of cats have age-related issues by age 12. The assumption that a single cat year equals seven human years is largely inaccurate. The fact is a 12-month-old cat is equivalent to a 21-year-old person. Therefore a ten-year-old kitty is close to a 53-year old person.

What happens to cats as they age?

Similar to humans, the aging process produces several behavioral and physical changes, such as:

- Their immune system is weaker and less likely to fight off infections. Chronic diseases may impair immune system function.

- Dehydration frequently occurs in older cats and can further decrease immunity and blood circulation.

- Older cats have thinner skin and therefore reduced blood circulation.

- Aging felines have claws that are thick, brittle, and overgrown.

- As cats age, they experience changes in personality and display symptoms such as excessive meowing, wandering, avoiding social interaction, and disorientation.

- Hearing loss will occur as their age progresses.

- Older cats are less effective in grooming and will, therefore, have skin odor, inflammation, and hair matting.

- Dental disease is very common and can cause severe pain.

- Older cats may develop joint and bone-related issues like arthritis making it hard for them to climb the stair or even jump.

- Hyperthyroidism is also prevalent in the feline population, which can cause cancer, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

- Loss of appetite is fairly common in older cats.

How to meet the needs of your senior cat?

Keep a close eye on your feline. Check its teeth and skin regularly. Note down changes in behavior and movement. Most age-related changes can be noted by simply scratching your cat behind the ears and stroking its coat.

Here are additional tips to keep your aging cat healthy and content:

Regular Brushing

Be sure to comb your cat’s hairs on a regular basis. This stimulates blood flow and the secretion of oil from the sebaceous gland. Both result in a healthy coat and skin. Keep nails short and trimmed.

Regular Tooth Brushing

Use a cat-specific tooth powder or paste to brush their teeth. This is the best way to prevent dental issues. Dental disease is a common occurrence in older cats, which can hinder their appetite, so regular brushing is a good idea.

Good Nutrition

Most cats become obese or heavy as they get older. It’s important to keep their weight within a healthy weight range. Speak to your veterinarian about how much food to give your cat. Also, pick a food product specifically made for senior cats like the Royal Canin Senior Consult Feline dry cat food.

Reduce Stress

Environmental stress has a significant impact on older cats as they are unable to adapt to such changes. If you’re moving or traveling with your cat, carry familiar objects such as toys and blankets that they use. It’s better to have your aging cat cared for in the home rather than being transported during travel. Avoid introducing new pets if you have a senior cat, as this can be very traumatic for them. Sometimes situations like moving, traveling, etc. cannot be avoided, which may require you to take your cat along. In such situations, remember to give your cat a little more love and attention to prevent any emotional upheaval.

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