For most cat lovers, a feline friend is much more than a pet — he or she is a member of the family. You care for your cat the same way you would any loved one. You support their safety and health in every way you can.
Just like the other members of your family, your cat will need different types of care as he or she grows up. This is especially true as your cat ages. Here are a few tips that will help you give your senior cat extra love and support.
Your cat has probably seen the vet at least once a year as long as they’ve been in your home. But once your cat becomes a senior citizen (which most vets agree is age 11 or older), they will need medical screening more often than just an annual checkup, every six months.
As your cat ages their immune system changes and they can be at a greater risk for heart disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and many other conditions. Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms at home, and take your cat to the vet at least twice a year for a thorough checkup. Make sure you get their teeth checked, too — dental disease is a common problem among senior cats.
When your cat gets older, you may notice significant changes in their digestive system. A cat that once used to have a big appetite might just sniff at his dinner, or a cat who used to eat anything and everything may develop a sensitive stomach. This can be a big surprise, but there’s good news — it’s totally normal!
If you notice your cat’s meals become tough on their tummy, it’s time to make some changes. Consider feeding them smaller meals throughout the day, or switch to a “senior diet” that has more taurine (a heart-healthy protein that easier for cats to digest). Also, a wet diet can be beneficial as it will help the kidney and some old cats just lose their teeth, so this kind of diet can be easier for them to eat.
Activity & Engagement
Even the most hyperactive cat will start to slow down in their sunset years — and this decreased activity can lead to issues in the bones and joints. For this reason, it is important to keep your cat moving as much as possible throughout the day.
Take extra time to play with your cat when you are home with them. Move small furniture (like footstools or scratching posts) around the house so your cat can consistently explore the “new” space. Hide treats around the house and encourage your cat to find them (this is both an exercise for their body and their brain).
Help with Grooming
Cats are compulsive and fastidious groomers, but as they age they tend to become less attentive. They may not be able to sharpen their nails or clean their coat as often or as well as they did years ago. Luckily, you can help them keep nice and clean!
Take extra care to look at your cat’s grooming habits and fill in the gaps as necessary. Trim their nails more frequently, brush their coat (and watch for excessive shedding), and make sure their bed or personal area is kept tidy.
Not only will these activities keep your cat active, they’ll also help you make more fun memories with your furry friend. Trust us, your cat will appreciate it!
About the Author
Aaron Smith is a writer and copy strategist for several companies and non-profits. He often covers topics important to pet owners, and is a dedicated dog dad to his three pups: Buddy, Roxy, and Kaya.