Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Caring For Very Old Cats

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Home Monitoring Is Possible

How to care for an older cat Part 3 of 3

Home monitoring devices are available for pets, just like human diabetics use.

These cut down on vet visits and are great for the cat who is anxious at the vets office.

Some cats wont let you prick their ear for a drop of blood. Home monitoring is certainly not for everyone, or every cat. But its worth discussing with your vet.

Do Senior Cats Like To Play

It is important to play with an elderly cat every day to ensure the necessary level of activity. You can use different toys that your cat may like:

A stick with feathers to chase after. Toys for cats with catnip. Puzzle toys with treats.

Set aside time to play every day. Cats are independent creatures, and some of them may snort at your suggestion to exercise, especially if they are elderly and suffer from arthritis. However, if you trick an elderly cat into playing, it will get much-needed daily activity through a few quick runs around the house.

Initial Screening And Stabilization

Screening Tests

Recognizing complications at the beginning makes for smoother stabilization.

When you go on a long journey, you check your vehicles tire pressure, the oil level and that theres sufficient gas in the tank. This helps reduce the risk of breakdown en route.

The same goes for the newly diagnosed diabetic cat.

When finances allow, let your vet run a barrage of bloods tests to help identify issues that could make stabilizing the cat difficult.

One example is screening for high levels of growth hormone in the cats bloodstream. The latter is a condition called acromegaly, which afflicts around 25% of cat diabetics and can make their care more difficult.

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Keeping Your Older Cat Safe Outdoors

Is your cat microchipped? Older cats may get lost or go missing due to being confused and unsteady on their feet.

Microchipping your cat will improve your chances of being reunited with your pet if they wander off.

If youre worried about a cat with an illness that requires medication or a more senile cat disappearing, you can make your garden safer for them and minimise disputes with neighbourhood cats by fencing in your garden.

Some cats may stop going outdoors as much as they have difficulty using a cat flap. Placing steps inside and outside can be helpful, but you may prefer to escort your friend outside.

How To Care For An Older Cat

Caring for an older cat « Very Important Pets

Its not always easy detecting the signs of old age in a cat but you might notice your elderly moggy starts to find everyday tasks more challenging than they did before, especially if they experience visual or hearing impairment.

Cats are known to like routine and as little change as possible. This is especially true in cats with brain ageing, who may find even the smallest of changes difficult to cope with.

Common symptoms of old age include: hunting less spending less time outside being less active and sleeping for longer periods reduced or fussy appetite less keen to play or groom more vocal and more dependent on you hearing and sight deterioration and change in sleeping patterns.

Thankfully, there are a host methods you can employ to help your cat cope with old age

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Can I Hold The Kitten

Vets recommend not touching kittens unless you have to while their eyes are still closed. You can check on them to make sure theyre healthy and gaining weight, but try to limit direct physical contact.

The kittens mother will also let you know how comfortable she is with you handling her babies. Its important to take it slow, especially at first. If the mother cat seems anxious or stressed, give her and her babies some space.

Who Handles Medical Care For Feral And Street Cats

Medical care for feral cats is what will overwhelm you, both in money and time. Even if you can handle the food and water without feeling as if you’re in over your head, anyone can become discouraged by all the medical care involved in caring for a street cat colony.

For starters, you really should get all of your cats spayed or neutered. Aside from it being the right thing to do, you’ll help yourself out, too. If your colony is currently at five or six cats, you don’t want it to grow to a population of fifty or sixty cats.

Yancey advises finding a local animal rescue and requesting their assistance with medical care. She says that the cost of offering healthcare services for her cat colony of the last two years has been shouldered by a neighborhood animal rescue that has relationships with various veterinarians, which allows the group to get the cats spayed and neutered for a far cheaper price than an individual could on their own.

“That organization also provided traps and helped us with trapping,” she adds.

So far, Yancey said she hasn’t had any experiences with a cat that has been injured or sick. That may be because feral cats tend to hide when they’re suffering, Yancey says. She adds that if and when something comes up, she’ll pay for it out of pocket.

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How Do I Keep A Newborn Kitten Warm

Kittens should be kept in a cat carrier wrapped in a few layers of towels. Using a heating pad or heat disc for pets alongside a soft fleece blanket can also help keep them warm. Ensure that the carrier is large enough for your kitten to move away from the heater when they want to.

It is very important to keep your cat carrier in a safe, warm room away from other pets. Its helpful to go and check on your kitten throughout the day. If your kitten feels cold, you need to warm them up as soon as possible.

What Are Some Health Complications Or Diseases That Are Commonly Experienced By Seniors

Caring for very young (pre-eight weeks) kittens

Senior cats have a particular subset of concerns. Oral health is undoubtedly a concern, as all cats will have dental needs as they age, so if we can keep up on those and not wait until their oral health is terrible as they age, that’s ideal. Kidney disease is relatively common in cats, so again, we like canned food for older cats. We also see things like diabetes and liver diseases, especially in cats that are overweight. There should be some changes musculoskeletal-wise. As far as their spines, we start to see some arthritis and such in senior cats, and we would like to know about those so we can help advise you on the best way to keep their quality of life as good as possible.

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What Are Some Specific Age

Senior cat care is defined by life stage guidelines. However, its important to remember that definitions aren’t hard and fast, and some of our cats get older sooner, and some of them get older later. So these life stage guidelines need to be considered on a case by case basis. It’s an individual consideration that you and your veterinarian will determine together but, typically, the ages and life stages are:

  • Adult -10 and 11
  • Senior – 11 to 14
  • Geriatric – 15+

And as cats start to age, there are some unique things that you’re going to start to need to think about, including behavior changes, nutritional changes, specific veterinary medical changes that’ll need to be addressed, and home environment changes. By looking at senior and geriatrics cats from an overarching view like this, you can address all of these categories and help them enter their golden years as healthy and pain-free as possible.

Ruling Out Other Causes For Your Cats Behavior

If your cat shows any of the symptoms or changes listed above, your first step is to take her to the veterinarian to determine whether there is a specific medical cause for her behavior. Any medical or degenerative illness that causes pain, discomfort or decreased mobilitysuch as arthritis, dental disease, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, impaired sight or hearing, or urinary tract diseasecan lead to increased sensitivity and irritability, increased anxiety about being touched or approached, increased aggression , decreased responsiveness to your voice, reduced ability to adapt to change, and reduced ability to get to usual elimination areas.

If medical problems are ruled out, and if primary behaviorproblems unrelated to aging are ruled out , your cats behavior may be attributed to the effects of aging on the brain.

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When Is The Right Time To Euthanise A Pet

None of us has a crystal ball, and our cats cant tell us when theyve had enough. We have to make the best decision we can, but with the added complication of wanting to fight for our cats, clinging to hope and not wanting to let go. Reaching the decision to euthanise a beloved pet is one of the hardest decisions you will ever have to make.

Dr. Mary Gardener, founder of Lap of Love, an in-home pet euthanasia practice, identifies four types of budget that families should consider.

  • Financial budget: End-of-life veterinary care often be expensive and put a strain on the household budget.
  • Time budget: A terminal pet often requires intensive home care, which can take up a considerable amount of time. If you work full-time out of the house or travel a lot, this can impact your ability to provide optimal care.
  • Physical budget: Are you physically able to care for a terminal cat? Are you capable of lifting him or her out of the litter tray if they are unable to walk, managing accidents, taking the cat for vet check-ups?
  • Emotional budget: Caring for a terminal cat carries a huge emotional toll. For me, caring for my beloved cat for over 6 months during her cancer treatment was emotionally hard. Some of our pets are a link or a bridge to the past. They might represent our childhood, a marriage, a difficult period in our lives, or a family member who is no longer with usall of which can make it even harder to let go.

Questions to consider when deciding when to euthanise your cat

See The Vet More Often

Caring for Senior Cats

As your cat ages, more and more potential health issues will start to spring. Thats why regular veterinary check-ups should be your goal.

Ask a Vet

If you are concerned about the health of your elderly cat we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP to help you work out if there is an underlying issue and if anything needs to be done. JustAnswer allows you to talk in real-time to veterinary experts for a small fee.

Normally, we would recommend at least one yearly visit to the vet, but for very old cats, you might have to halve that number. Visiting the vet every 6 months seems to be the optimal schedule for elderly cats. Your vet might prescribe some medications or supplements that will help you postpone the severe effects of aging.

Some alarming signs of disease you should watch out for include:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss,
  • Drinking more often or much less,
  • Stiffness and lethargy,
  • Trouble urinating,
  • Changes in behaviour.

There should also be one bigger examination each year. This is helpful for taking the blood test samples and analysing your cats wellbeing. Regular vet check-ups will do your cat a world of good. Dental issues are a common problem

At the same time, your vet might also give you valuable advice on how to care for your elderly cat. From the diet to general care, its better to get expert advice from someone who has a lot of experience in dealing with elderly cats.

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Read Through Our Top Tips:

  • Keep a routine as this helps your cat predict what is going to happen each day.
  • 2. Short interaction/play sessions to keep their brain active.

    3. If changes are impossible to prevent, try to make them as slowly as possible.

    3. Plug a FELIWAY Diffuser in the room your cat spends most of its time to reinforce their feeling of safety in the home.

    4. Some old cats get easily disoriented and would benefit from living in a restricted area , which contains all they essentials: food, water, litter box, scratching post & sleeping den.

    5. Be sure to schedule regular check-up appointments with your vet, ideally every 6 months, to keep an eye on your old cats well being.

    Cats are very good at hiding pain. If you notice any changes in their day-to-day behaviour, be sure to get them examined by a vet. They will be able to check whether there are any underlying causes for these changes.

    7. Ensure your older cat has easy access to their resources . If their safe haven/favourite hiding spot is high up, put in a ramp so they can still reach them.

    Its also important to make sure their litter box doesn’t have high walls. This will cause problems for cats when they get older as they’ll find it more difficult to get in and out due to arthritis and other painful conditions.

    8. Keep dietary changes in mind. Be sure to introduce either a specific food or food supplement, which provides antioxidants proven to help protect the brain and increase memory and cognition, into their diet.

    Elderly Cat Friendly Home

    All the recommendations for a cat friendly home will work as well for the elderly with a little modification. There is rarely the need to make drastic changes to the home to accommodate your cat as it gets older but small adaptations to the existing cat resources can make a significant difference to the quality of life. If your cat is finding stairs difficult to negotiate, for example, then it may be spending prolonged periods on one level, either up or downstairs. Ensuring that all your cats needs are met on that one level will avoid any risk of being unable to access important resources.

    In order to make activity and movement in general easier for your older cat, it is important that it feels comfortable walking. Laminate, tiled or wooden flooring can be slippery and old cats can become unstable on slippery surfaces making them less inclined to be active. Equally, carpet can catch on your cats claws that overgrow easily without regular stropping and remain protracted as the muscles weaken. Cut pile carpets are more comfortable for your cat than loop pile so if your flooring is the latter you can compromise by providing cut pile runners throughout the home to enable your cat to walk in comfort. This is also the ideal surface on which to play, particularly if your cat likes to lie down in the process.

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    What Risks Do Senior Cats Face

    Arthritis is common in senior cats and some may find it difficult to climb into litter box or reach their food and water bowls.

    Thick, overgrown claws that are brittle are more common in senior cats that are sedentary, requiring more frequent nail trimming.

    Changes in hearing and vision can appear as cats age. Their eyes may develop a slight haziness and several diseases can impair their ability to see, sometimes high-blood pressure is the underlying cause. Age also brings hearing loss, particularly in elderly cats over age 10.

    Geriatric or elderly cats over age 10 may develop behavior changes associated with memory loss. Symptoms may include wandering, excessive meowing, disorientation and avoiding social interaction.Compared to younger cats, an older cats immune system is less able to fend off foreign invaders. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease can impair their immune function even further. Impaired kidney function and failure is common in senior cats, and its symptoms are extremely varied.

    Hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer are all conditions that are more prevalent in cats as they age.

    As a pet owners you may not be able to stop the age-related health changes from happening to your cat, but you can often manage them with exercise and diet changes.

    Feeding The Older Cat

    How to care for an older cat Part 1 of 3

    Throughout its life, it is a good idea to weigh your cat every one to two months. If weight is steadily increasing after 12 months of age, you need to start reducing your cats food. Weight loss can be an early sign of illness, so check with your vet.

    It is common for older cats to develop medical conditions that cause them to lose weight, such as kidney and thyroid disease. If your cat is losing weight, it is important to consult your vet as soon as possible. Other cats acquire a middle-aged spread and it is essential that this be kept under control. Overweight cats are unlikely to live as long and they are prone to serious illnesses such as kidney disease, diabetes and arthritis.

    Cats vary in size from petite to large, so weight alone doesn’t tell you much. The only way to tell if your pet is overweight is to examine it carefully. Can you see an hourglass waist when viewed from above? Can you feel your pets ribs with light finger pressure? If the answer to these questions is no, it is time to reduce food intake. And if your pet has a potbelly as well, it is definitely time to go on a diet. However, crash dieting is dangerous for cats.

    It may be better to follow one of the many senior diets, as they are lower in calories and reduce the likelihood of weight gain. Protein restriction has not been proven to be beneficial for healthy cats, but is helpful for cats with kidney problems. If your cat has kidney disease ask your vet for advice on a suitable diet.

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