Thanks to modern veterinary science, better nutrition, and many owners keeping their cats inside all of the time, our feline friends are living a lot longer.
In fact, it’s now common that an indoor cat can easily live up to fifteen years, and some even making it to the twenty-year mark. Did you know there are even vets that will make house calls?
It wasn’t that long ago that cats were considered old around the ten-year mark, and being fifteen years old was considered geriatric. Now that things are different, and it’s likely your feline friend will have many years with you, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. Something to think about as you cat ages is to be able to relate the passage of time to that in human years.
There’s a pretty simple formula for calculating the age of a cat in human years. The first two years of a cat’s life are about the same as twenty-four years for a human. Every year past twenty-four is the same as about four years of a human life. So for example, a cat that’s sixteen years old would be about the same as a human who is eighty years old.
With age comes changes
– most notable is that your cat will likely move around slower, and might sleep more. As they age, cats become more vulnerable to
some illnesses. And their senses might not be as sharp, with a reduction in ability to smell and taste food. Sometimes they don’t digest fats and proteins as well as they used to. With age also comes a lessened tolerance to stress, which can affect their immune system and general disposition.
As cats age, you may find that their behavior changes as well, often as a result of the physiological changes taking place. Cats do seem to take these changes in stride through, and you might miss the changes unless you’re taking notes. Older cats don’t hunt that often (if you let your cat outside), tend to be less active, and spend a lot more time sleeping, and yes, that’s on top of all the regular napping they do already. Your cat might change its food preference, being extra fussy about what they’ll eat, and more vocal about what they don’t want to have for dinner. They might also develop a sense of insecurity, and become clingy or more dependent on you.
This is the now the time when, more than ever, your feline companion needs essential care. Checking your cat regularly will enable you to detect problems that need to be tackled right away, and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Elderly cats may have more problems with their claws, and might find them themselves getting caught on carpet and furniture more often than they did when they were younger. Bear in mind that if you don’t preventive health care, it can lead to things as serious as surgery. Not only can that be expensive, but is extra stressful on an elder cat.
When cats are young, they keep themselves very clean, but that may change as they become older. Keep an eye on your cat’s cleaning habits, and give them a hand when they need it. Sometimes you might to use a moist cloth and wipe their faces clean. If you use a brush, don’t use one with very sharp bristles. Cats, like people, tend to lose hair density with age and you don’t want to be jabbing their skin and bones with pin pricks. While you’re grooming your cat, be sure to check for any odd bumps, sores or other items that would require the attention of a professional veterinarian. If you do brush and groom your cat, make sure you’re covering their whole body, and not just the easy to reach places. Keep an eye out for matted fur and areas where hair is tangled or clumped together. If things have gotten really out of hand, you can always go to the kitty day care and have them give your cat some pampering.
Elderly cats are more susceptible to becoming dehydrated.
This is especially true if they are suffering from medical conditions such as chronic kidney disease, or high blood pressure, so always make sure that a variety of water sources are available. Place bowls throughout the home in easy to reach places. Don’t place the water bowl anywhere near their litter boxes, as cats are genetically programmed to and and drink far away from where they do their business. Your older cat might get picky about water as well as food, so be prepared to try different types of bowls including metal, ceramic and plastic. They might like tap water just fine, but prefer spring water or distilled. You’ll only really know by offering your cat different choices and see how they react. You might also want to raise the bowl off the floor making it easier for them the reach the bowl.
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that your home is elder-cat friendly.
There are a few small changes you can make that will ensure life is a little bit easier. If your cat is going up and down the stairs less, find somewhere on the main floor that you cat can make its new resting place, lessening the time spent navigating what might be a more difficult environment now. If your cat likes to sleep with you, invest in some pet stairs so that they can navigate up and down with ease. If you’ve got a cat tower, you might want to make sure your cat can still climb in an out of it without too much trouble. If you’ve got a three story tower, you might need to downsize to a two story. You don’t want your cat jumping out of high places and potentially injuring themselves. All in all, remember that you cat has feelings, concerns and feels both pleasure and pain just like you do. Take good care of your cat, especially as they age, and they’ll love you back ten-fold!
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