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.
Common Diseases For Senior Cats
A very common and preventable disease that is prevalent in senior pets is dental disease, Dr. Lobprise said. While its not always a serious disease to have, it is one worth paying attention to and can change your cats demeanor if treated early and effectively. You can spot periodontal disease by regularly checking your cat’s teeth and gums for signs of bacterial infection such as inflammation, reddened gums and tartar. Left untreated, dental issues can impact a cats heart, kidneys, and the rest of the body.
Kidney and liver disease can be an issue for both cats and dogs, as can heart and valve disease. Endocrine issues including those impacting the adrenal glands and thyroid can also affect aging cats. Hyperthyroidism can make older cats lose weight or feel weak while obesity can cause diabetes. Unfortunately, Dr. Lobprise said it’s more common for multiple problems to compound each other in senior pets than in younger animals.
Your pets cognitive function is also a common issue are they aware of their surroundings? Do they recognize their owners? There are minor, natural declines in cognition as a part of the aging process, but as it advances, it can disrupt a pets quality of life. Supplements, pet food, and products designed to help cognitive function can help ease symptoms in these situations, but it’s important to have your animal evaluated by its veterinarian before beginning treatment.
What Is A Senior Age For Cats
Cats are generally considered seniors at around 8 to 10 years of age. This can vary depending on a variety of factors including individual genetics, the presence or chronic diseases and the level of veterinary care the cat has received during her lifetime.
There are many 10-year-old cats that still act kitten-like without noticeable aging changes.
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Heart And Respiratory Conditions
Cats arent open-mouth breathers, so if you notice them panting then it could suggest that they are suffering from a heart or respiratory condition. Other symptoms can include your cat seeming more lethargic than usual, having difficulty in catching their breath, or bolting upright to try to breathe easier.
What Kind Of Veterinarian Takes Special Interest In Cats
The American Association of Feline Practitioners is an organization dedicated to the special needs of cats. Members of the AAFP have a special interest in cats and feline medicine. When you are seeking a veterinarian for your cat who takes a particular interest in cats, AAFP membership is something to look for.
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Should I Encourage My Senior Cat To Exercise
I think exercise is important in all species and all kinds of animals. So, yes, I would encourage exercise, if possible. And I know people are probably looking at the screen like, “Yeah, you come to my house and make my senior cat exercise.” But anything you could do to get them moving. If they’re food motivated, tie that little food to a string and track it along and have them taste it. But it is important to try to get some physical activity.
The more stationary they are, the more weight they’re going to gain, and the more there are possibilities of other diseases manifesting themselves. Please try your best to exercise your senior cats.
What Is The Most Important Thing To Know About Caring For A Senior Cat
The most important thing is, congratulations, because for them to be with you into their senior years is really special. That means they’ve been with you through some of life’s biggest challenges, they’ve been with you through maybe marriages, kids, et cetera, so you have a special bond there. So number one, acknowledge that bond, and remember that when they get older, things change with them. Their behavior changesthey could be less needy or more needy. Give them the time that they need. Also, make sure you have a good established veterinarian that’s with you every step of the way, to help you think about the things that you may not be thinking about.
As someone that has a 20 year old Persian who I love dearly, Millie, I just thank God every single day that I have this beautiful cat that has been with me through every child I’ve had, through my marriage, through veterinary school, through moving, and I’m so grateful for that bond. So I think the most important aspect is loving them, taking care of them as best as you can. Every day is a gift. Having a good veterinary care staff that’s going to think about arthritis, pain, dental disease, diet, nutrition, and behavioral changes is essential.
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Its Essential To Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior And Routine And Note Any Changes Including:
- Weight Loss
- Any Behavioral Changes
When my patients reach that senior category around that 10-year age range, I ask them to come in twice a year. They don’t have to do blood work every year, and they’re not necessarily getting vaccinations every year, but we’re at least putting our hands on them and repeating blood work that’s showing patterns.
If you witness or suspect any changes in behavior or routine for your mature, senior, or geriatric cat, we recommend making an appointment at Cat Care Center immediately.
The Effects Of Ageing
With increasing age, there are many changes to a cats physiology, behaviour and vulnerability to particular illnesses. Physiological changes include reduced ability to smell and taste food, reduced ability to digest fat and protein, reduced hearing, immune function, skin elasticity and stress tolerance.
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How Can I Help Keep My Older Cat Healthy
It’s wise to consider adding a nutritional supplement containing enzymes, probiotics, and antioxidants to your cat’s food. These additives can be helpful for aging cats for generally the same reasons that they benefit people.
- Enzymes and probiotics help your cat absorb nutrients more efficiently and aid in proper elimination of byproducts, thus promoting gastrointestinal health.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, CoQ10, and alphalipoic acid help stave off degenerative diseases such as arthritis and cancer and help support brain function.
Optimal nutrition provides the building blocks for a stronger immune system, one that is better able to fight off infections, degenerative diseases, and cancer.
Good nutrition is the foundation of a healthy plan for your cat’s golden years. Provide the highest quality diet that your cat is willing to eat. Unless your veterinarian instructs otherwise, opt for a senior formula. These contain fewer calories to curb weight gain but have better digestibility, and contain extra fiber, vitamins, and fatty acids to account for slower digestive function. Feed smaller meals more frequently. Canned food is often more palatable for a cat with a dulled sense of smell or dental issues. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for specific advice about the best diet for your older cat. And don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water daily.
Caring For Your Senior Feline
Statistics show that cats, like people, are living longer, thanks to advances in veterinary science, nutrition, and therapeutics, as well as an increase in the proportion of cats living indoors or whose access to the outdoors is restricted to leash walks and/or escape-proof enclosed structures. In fact, the percentage of house cats aged 6 and above has doubled over the last 25 years. This coincides with a growing appreciation for cats as a unique species with a special physiology and set of behavioral needs requiring customized care both from a veterinary and lifestyle perspective. With continued progress, more and more cats will thrive long into their golden years.
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Youll Help Out A Cat In Need
While all animals in shelters need great homes, the demand is particularly high for senior cats. If you decide to adopt a senior, youll be helping out a cat thats truly in need. Youll also be enjoying many of the perks that come with bringing an older pet into your home.
If youre looking to add a new cat to your home, adopting can be a highly rewarding choice. Many cats are in need of homes, including many great senior kitties. If you decide to adopt, be sure to ask about the shelters adoption requirements and application ahead of time. Many shelters encourage you to fill out an adoption application in advance so you can be approved and visit with pets until you find the right one. Whether you adopt a kitten or a senior cat, youre sure to find your new best friend and family member.
Is My Cat Sick Or Is It Just Old Age
It is natural for cats to become calmer and sleep more as they age. Many changes in your cats behaviour, however, could be indicative of illness and should not be ignored. Diseases associated with old age are sometimes inconspicuous and symptoms emerge so gradually that pet owners often miss the warning signs. It is important not to assume any changes are just an inevitable part of aging. As your cat grows older, it becomes even more important to have him or her checked regularly by your veterinarian to continue to ensure your feline friend lives a long, healthy life.
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How To Care For Your Senior Or Geriatric Cat
It’s Easy to Overlook Your Cat’s Advancing Age
It can be difficult to spot when your cat officially becomes a senior. Many cat owners are lucky enough to have cats that live into their teens, which makes it easy to overlook your cats advancing age before they hit the decade mark. But you might spot your cat slowing down. Maybe theyre less agile than they used to be or maybe their once three-hour long nap in the sun is extending well into the evening.
Cats who reach senior status benefit from an evaluation of their overall health and diets to make sure their routine is optimized to ensure their longevity. A biologically appropriate diet and regular play can help your cat overcome the muscle wasting that often comes with age.
Do You Have a Senior or Geriatric Cat?
The average age of a domestic indoor cat is 12 to 16 years. By the time your cat reaches the age of seven, theyre officially a senior cat. Senior cats have the same needs as adult cats, but a few dietary and behavior changes can help your cat live their best life into old age. Any suggestions for senior cats benefit adult cats of any age, so dont think you have to wait until your cat reaches a specific age to make useful dietary changes.
As your cat ages, they are at risk for more health problems, so scheduling yearly blood work is the best thing you can do to monitor your cats health. Bloodwork will uncover problems with the kidneys, liver and other organs before they seriously threaten your cats health.
How Do I Control Calorie Intake And Avoid Nutrient Excesses
Calorie control in mature and senior cats usually means reducing calorie consumption by approximately 20-30%. In geriatric cats, it may be more important to increase their caloric intake to sustain a normal physique as their body condition and weight naturally declines with advanced age.
It is important to closely monitor your cats body condition and muscle condition and keep both in a good range as discussed in the handout Obesity in Cats.; Maintaining healthy body condition and muscle mass reduces the risk for many diseases including cancer, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, and immune-mediated disease. It can slow the progression of age-related changes and increase a cat’s lifespan.
Most senior cat diets are formulated with appropriate nutrient limits and are less calorie-dense than rations for kittens and young adults; however, there are currently no established specific nutrient requirements. This means that amounts of nutrients found in different foods can vary widely. Your best resource for choosing a diet for your senior cat is your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will recommend a specific diet based on your cats specific needs.
“Maintaining healthy body condition and muscle mass reduces the risk for many diseases.”
Once you know the appropriate quantity to feed at each meal, you can schedule regular weigh-ins at your veterinarian’s office to monitor any weight gain or loss.
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What To Expect When Your Kitty Becomes A Senior Cat
My 15-year-old cat, Lance, sits next to me as I write this piece. He is special to me because he is ;the oldest of my four cats and we have shared quite a bit of time together. Caring for him helps me to cross-check the guidance I give to anyone who is sharing their life with a senior cat and wants to provide them with the very best care. Owner observations and vigilance, regular veterinary exams, and wellness testing are the four cornerstones of excellent senior cat care.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners Senior Care Guidelines, older cats are classified as mature or middle-aged at 7 to 10 years old, as senior cats at 11 to 14 years old, and geriatric from 15 to 25 years old.
Many in the profession begin treating a cat who is 7 years and older as senior cats, and begin doing wellness exams every six months instead of yearly. Those who work closely with cats are very aware how subtle the signs of illness in cats are and how well cats can hide their illnesses.
As many diseases are more common in older cats, our vigilance in observing their day-to-day habits needs to be intensified after age 7 to be sure we can prevent and catch problems early.
Routine And Wellness Care
This applies to cats in all stages of their life, but be more cognizant of how you can improve the quality of life and comfort for your senior cat in the following areas of wellness care::
- Food and water Provide food and water at floor level, raised slightly, to reduce the need for jumping or bending. Nutrition and Weight Management discussed separately below.
- Litter box Provide large litter boxes with a low entry for easy access, and high sides to help cats that cannot squat . A fine-consistency litter is easier on the paws.
- Grooming Clip nails regularly to avoid problems such as ingrowing toenails and brush regularly to avoid clumps of mat hair.
- Social interaction Provide attention and to your senior cat including plenty of social interaction but also pay attention to whether your cats behavior as it pertains to social interaction changes, so that you can accommodate to your cats comfort level when it comes to social interaction.
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Time Flies For Humans And Cats
It may seem like only yesterday that you brought home that playful, bouncy kitten. But by age 7, your cat has entered middle age. By 12 years of age your cat is becoming a senior citizen, and by 15 she is considered “geriatric” . While the average lifespan for a spayed or neutered house cat is 14-16 years, many felines are now living into their late teens and even their early twenties.
What Kinds Of Preventative Care Can Help Extend The Life And Health Of My Cat
Establishing a good relationship with your veterinarian and veterinary practice is essential in preventing disease in cats. My Cat Care Center staff is extremely valuable to me. These guys know your cats, and they know your cats so well that they are going to pick up on when something is not quite right. They also learn their blood works and what your cat needs on a biannual or annual basis. This relationship between you, your veterinary staff, and the doctor and you is so critical, and that’s something that needs to be established early onnot necessarily when they turn 10 or 11.
When your veterinarian makes recommendations and they have valid reasons that they go over with you, let them do the blood work, the urinalysis, and take the blood pressure. We start that early on at Cat Care Center, and we do that for two reasons. Number one, that’s where we’re going to determine the normals for your cat. Number two, we’re going to get your cat used to being handled in a feline-friendly way. We also make sure we handle cats extra carefully as they age. By all means, establish a bond and a preventative maintenance package with your veterinarian.
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