Caring for A Senior Cat

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This resource was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Zara Lewis

 

Loving Care for Your Senior Cat

 

 

As much as we tend to turn a blind eye to the fact that out loving pets age, and that they will one day become seniors, we must realize that with time, they will require extra care and loving devotion if we are to maximize their lifespans. Felines, no matter how many lives you think they have, are no different.

If your furry friend has reached their silver years (which is officially when they pass the 10-year mark), you need to start paying special attention to the subtle changes in their behavior, health and routine. Some of these changes can include an unkempt appearance, the inability to jump as high as before (arthritis, most likely), disrupted sleep cycle, and the unwillingness to socialize with humans. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can make your cat’s silver years as healthy and vibrant as possible.

Playtime and adequate exercise

 

Just because they’re seniors, it doesn’t mean that they don’t require adequate exercise, even when they don’t feel like it. After all, many cat species really are sociable even if their demeanor doesn’t express it, so it will be up to you to kick-start a healthy play session every day.

Some vets even recommend massaging and stretching your cat’s legs, especially at the joints, in order to mobilize weak areas, and prep their body for some energetic playtime. Whatever you do, make sure you initiate playtime slowly, and build up the intensity as she gets more excited. Remember to monitor their behavior, taking into account cardio endurance, level of fatigue and movement patterns – you might discover that your cat is limping while playing or using one side more than the other, which might be a sign to give your vet a visit.

Feeding and examining a senior cat

It should go without saying that your veterinarian should have the last say on what your senior cat should eat, and when she should eat it – but do stay vigilant. Nevertheless, keep in mind that older cats tend to gain weight as they age, so reducing portions and increasing protein sources is always a good idea.

On the other hand, your cat might even experience a sudden drop in weight, which is a definitive sign that you should involve your vet in the matter, as this could be caused by serious conditions such as kidney failure. In any case, unless your cat requires feeding by hand, you can maintain their regular eating schedule

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In order to stay on top of your cat’s physical condition, it’s also a good idea to perform weekly physical examinations yourself. Be sure to examine her teeth and gums, both ear canals, and don’t forget to examine the health of her skin and fur, paying close attention to abnormal bumps and protrusions.

Keeping their coat healthy and shiny

 

Speaking of a feline’s coat and skin, daily brushing will be essential in maintaining the quality of their mane, ridding their skin of excess hair for better temperature management, and making sure she is free of any hazardous particles that might have found their way under the coat. This will also stimulate blood circulation for overall health and vigor.

To achieve this, you want to have a delicate yet effective tool at hand, such as a Furminator brush for cats that is able to reach deep into the coat without damaging the skin or leaving any loose hair lying around. Having an adequate brush becomes especially important as the feline enters their senior years, due to their increasingly fragile physical condition.

As a last note on grooming, keep in mind that older cats tend to use scratching posts less often than they should, which is why you want to check their nails weekly and trim them as needed.

Maintaining their immune system

Many a chronic illness can befall a senior feline. With age, the body starts to weaken, and the immune system suffers as a result, especially if their nutrition is off point. Some common conditions you want to look out for in older cats are feline asthma, polyarthritis, pemphigus, feline immunodeficiency virus, as well as certain kinds of cancers.

While there is nothing that can substitute proper diagnosis and treatment, there are certain ways to preserve your feline’s immune system at home.

  • Providing a healthy and complete diet rich with protein, fresh water and limited carbs.
  • Promoting a healthy, energetic lifestyle with plenty of playing and exercising.
  • Reducing daily stress. You can achieve this by responding to the needs of your cat, providing plenty of alone time, and always keeping the litter box clean.

Frequent vet visits are greatly encouraged

 

Last but not least, older cats need to visit the vet more frequently, in order for you to stay on top of their current health condition and prevent age-related illnesses instead of treating them. No matter how much love, attention and proper care you give to your cat, always remember that a professional can help you prolong her lifespan significantly, so make regular check-ups a habit.

Caring for a senior cat needn’t be a cumbersome chore, and in fact, it only requires that you adapt their routine to their new physical and mental condition. With these essential tips in mind, you have all the basics covered to take care of your tiny lion well into their deep silver years.

” Zara Lewis is a regular contributor at Highstylife magazine and a full-time animal lover. Originally from Chicago, she found her place in the sun in Perth, Australia. Passionate about creating a better world for the generations to come, she is a mum of two, raising them inseparably from their furry family members. ”