Your Guide to Senior Cat Care
Have you noticed your furry companion starting to slow down during playtime? When your cat reaches the ripe old age of 11-years-old, they are officially in the senior category of feline life, reaching their geriatric years after age 15. While they may need cat naps more often than they used to, senior cats are still kittens at heart. We’ve compiled information to help guide you through keeping your aging cat healthy and happy throughout their senior years.
As a cat owner, it is important to schedule regular visits with your veterinarian for your senior cat. Aging cats have an increased vulnerability to illness due to a weakening immune system. Even if your cat appears healthy, a yearly check-up is still imperative as many diseases can show no symptoms.
Senior cats are more prone to have a urinary tract infection as a result of having more dilute urine and struggling to keep their genital areas clean. The growth of E-Coli bacteria on feces along with reduced natural body defenses in your senior cat can escalate to issues such as kidney failure over time. Dr. Elsey’s Senior Litter offers owners a solution to contending with these issues through a litter that works to coat and dehydrate cat feces, reduce odor, and prevent bacterial growth of E-Coli, while not sticking to the coat of your cat. Fine and soft in texture, Senior Litter consists of amorphous silica gel and is pleasing to cat’s paws. It is safe if inhaled or ingested, and does not cause silicosis because it has no crystalline silica.
Energy requirements for your feline friend progressively increase starting at 10-12 years of age. If daily caloric intake is not raised, progressive weight loss may result due to the loss of muscle mass in your cat. In the short digestive tract of cats, plant proteins are far less digestible than meat proteins. These issues are important when selecting a food for any cat, but they become of utmost importance when choosing a diet for the senior cat. Therefore, grain-based proteins should never be used as the primary protein source in aging cats. Senior cats absorb and metabolize protein less efficiently — therefore, it’s essential to feed high-quality animal-based protein such as Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein™ to aging cats.
Inspired by the protein levels found in natural prey, Dr. Elsey’s cleanprotein™ is 100% grain-free and gluten-free, and over 90% of the protein is animal-based. Available in a variety of formulas, cleanprotein™ kibble and recipe paté were designed to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for cats of all ages through simple, high-quality ingredients.
As your cat ages and loses flexibility, they will be less able to groom themselves efficiently. You may need to assist your cat with wiping away any goop around their eyes and nose, as well as any litter remnants that adhere to your cat’s backside. For each separate area, moisten a cotton cloth in warm water and gently wipe away any grime. To avoid any areas of matted hair on your cat, brush them using a soft brush or fine comb in a gentle manner making sure to avoid any vigorous motions that could be painful. Brushing is the perfect time to check for any unusual lumps, bumps, or sores on your cat that could merit a trip to the veterinarian. Elderly cats are less able to retract their claws, so it is recommended to regularly have your cat’s nails trimmed to avoid getting caught in furniture or carpets.
Cats of all ages benefit from playtime. Maintaining natural behaviors such as scratching, hunting, stalking, and chewing is important for a healthy and satisfied life indoors. Along with a stimulated mind, playtime for your senior cat can help burn excess calories and keep aging muscles and joints healthy. Due to arthritic movement, offering your senior cat horizontal scratching surfaces instead of traditional scratching posts can provide a source of exercise to the muscles of your cat’s limbs. To accommodate your cat’s loss of flexibility, try placing a large cardboard box on its side allowing your cat to walk in and investigate without having to jump.
A favorite activity of senior cats is curling up for a much-needed nap after an active play session or a long morning of bird watching. While cats enjoy raised surfaces for napping, such as a bed or window sill, it can become increasingly hard to reach these surfaces. Positioning a ramp or platform below your cat’s preferred sleeping spot can create ease for their aging joints. To soften their spot and provide extra warmth, try adding a folded blanket to their nap zone. The additional padding can also help prevent any accidental falls due to impaired balance on slick surfaces.
Loss of Senses
As your cat ages, they may have sight or hearing loss. When coping with the loss of these senses, it is important not to startle or disorient your cat. When approaching a cat with hearing problems, approach from the front rather than from behind to avoid alarming them. Similarly, if your cat suffers from vision problems, always call them by their name before approaching to announce yourself. Placing nightlights around your house can help cats with poor vision navigate in the dark. If your cat is blind, keeping items like the litter box and food bowls in a consistent spot can help your cat learn to navigate the home.
Senior cats are often the last to be adopted from shelters, but there are many benefits to inviting an older cat into your home. With a lifetime of learning to coexist with other animals behind them and having mastered the ins and outs of the litter box while at the shelter, senior cats often need less behavioral monitoring than younger cats. Not to mention, senior cats make great company! So next time you’re looking to add a feline companion into your life, consider saving a life and gaining an older friend to snuggle with on the couch for cat naps.