How To Care For Senior Cats

As some of you know, I now have a senior cat that I adopted from the shelter in Juneau.  I’ve had him for a year, and he is 15, going on 16 now.  He’s the sweetest cat, and I’m very glad I got him.

However, he is an old man cat.  He has renal disease, so we deal with that.  He has arthritis; he plays a little, but not a lot.  Mostly, he sleeps.

Here’s a fact I didn’t realize:  Though the cat shows no apparent change, by age seven he is becoming a senior.  Changes in his biology will occur.  Soon kitty will show signs of slowing down:  Not as active; more inclined to sleep and less to jump and climb.

Older cats are more prone to gaining weight, but your senior cat could lose weight instead.  These might be natural signs of aging, but as these changes begin to appear, it is a good idea to have the vet check him and make sure there are no serious health issues.Old grey cat

An article by Jean Marie Bauhaus in Hillspet.com gave a list of signs that your cat might be experiencing some senior problems.  Here it is:

  • Difficulty or reluctance to try to jump or climb
  • Weight changes, either up or down
  • Strange lumps or bumps
  • Not using the litter box
  • Losing his appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Incontinence or lack of urination
  • Lethargy or listlessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Excessive meowing, yowling, or other vocalization
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Bumping into objects
  • Pawing at the eyes
  • Excessive blinking

This list can be helpful to check against your cat’s behavior.  These are common senior cat problems.

Diet For A Senior Cat

It may be different than the one your cat has been on.  It can be hard to spot the transition from adult to senior, but there are some factors to consider to keep your older cat in optimum health.

1)  He might need a different food

It might be time to transition your cat to a senior food.  This change could be important to keep him at a healthy weight and in optimum health.  Discuss the best diet with your vet.

A cat’s digestion might be improved by feeding small, frequent meals through the day and evening.  Interesting, that my aging cat has figured that out for himself.Old yellow cat drinking

I still feed him twice a day.  However, he eats his meal over a considerable period of time.  He will eat a little bit, then leave, returning a short time later to eat some more.

If there is food left when we go to bed, he may get up and eat it in the middle of the night.  He eventually eats it all but in numerous small portions.

2)  Make sure he has plenty of water

Since Pogo has renal disease, making sure he has plenty of water is very important.  I have two water bowls, wide and shallow, so his whiskers don’t bump the edges.  He makes good use of both bowls.

3) Watch for subtle signs of pain in your cat

It is hard to detect signs of pain in your cat, because cats are experts at hiding pain.  Watch how he moves.  Has he slowed down considerably?  Does he limp?  My cat is a bit bow-legged, and it may be from his arthritis.

I knew Pogo was arthritic, because when I first brought him home, he limped; walked slowly; wouldn’t run.  I started giving him a few drops of CBD oil in his food — it Orange cat sleepingdoesn’t take much — and now he walks normally, doesn’t limp, and even runs.  I do believe the CBD oil did the trick.  (I use it for arthritis myself.)

One thing you can do to prevent arthritic pain is to keep your cat at a healthy weight.  Even a pound of excess weight can increase the pain of senior joints.

Your vet can give you other suggestions or medications to help control the cat’s pain.

4)  Take care of his teeth

Aging cats often develop dental disease.  Infections in the mouth can gradually affect the liver, kidneys, and heart.

A thorough exam by the vet and routine dental care can help your kitty a great deal.

5)  Make sure your senior gets daily exercise and mental stimulation

Do be sure your kitty has favorite spots where he can climb or sharpen his claws, and things to play with.  However, as he ages, you will have to be sure that everything is more accessible to him.

Maybe a carpeted ramp to act as a scratching surface, or a covered bed that will keep him cozy and warm.  Make sure food and water bowls are accessible.

6)  Visit your vet every six months

An older cat (past age 11) needs to see the vet every six months.  Blood work can show significant issues as they arise, giving you time to make the changes necessary.

A weight check during those visits can also offer good information as to overall health changes.  Oral exams will  help spot dental disease.

Senior dog and cat holding paws
Two old seniors sharing a good moment

Though age is not a disease, it is true that the likelihood of disease will increase as the cat ages.  Just like us, his age may lead to problems he did not have at a younger age.  Be watchful; help your cat overcome extra age challenges; keep him as healthy as possible, as that will lengthen his life.

Here are the sources I used for this article:

hillspet.com/cat-care/routine-care/common-senior-cat-problems

petmd.com/           Once you reach the website, type in this title:  6 tips for caring for senior cats

(I couldn’t get the URL to work the way it’s written, but the above will get you there.)

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