Being Old is Not a Disease
Thanks to veterinary medicine progress and improved nutrition, cats can live longer and healthier than the expected life span. Like humans, old age naturally results in changes that are noticeable in cats as they get older. Although ageing is completely natural, there are things you as an owner can do to ensure your senior cat is happy and healthy.
The Signs of Cat Ageing
As a cat ages, signs you may see include:
- Fur turning grey;
- Diminished flexibility;
- Slowing of reflexes;
- Decline in mobility;
- Loss or decreased hearing and sight;
- Diminished sense of smell;
- Decrease in energy; and
- Longer and deeper sleeping.
These signs will usually become evident between the ages of 7-11 years.
Indoor cats that are de-sexed and healthy age better than outdoor cats. For instance, wild cats only live for about three years, whereas an indoor male de-sexed cat that is well cared for can easily live into its late teens or early twenties.
Visit the Vet Twice a Year
The older the cat, the more important it is to go for regular checkups. It is recommended to see a veterinarian for examination every 6 months, as a cat ages up to 4 years in human terminology in one calendar year. Along with physical inspection, a urine and faecal analysis may also be performed, in addition to a full blood screen. If your cat is part of multiple feline household it is recommended to test the presence of feline leukaemia and immunodeficiency virus.
Keep your Vet informed
You should always consult your vet regarding any visible physical and behavioural changes in your cat. Sometimes you may think it’s a sign of getting old but in reality it might be a problem that requires medical attention. For instance, if your cat loses interest in playing, you might explain it due to decrease in energy levels with age, but the reason may be arthritis that restricts the cat’s movement and causes pain. This can be medically managed and treated. Visiting the veterinarian on a regular basis can help the vet design a suitable health care program that will let them diagnose any medical illness and easily treat them. You and your vet can work together to ensure your cat’s senior years will be happy and healthy.
Healthy & Balanced Diet
As your cat ages, the nutritional demands vary. Your pet may be eating less than normal but may actually gain weight. This can be a sign of decline in metabolic or decrease in physical activity. Obesity can lead to many serious health issues in cats such as heart, respiratory and skin problems and joint pain.
To help your cat reduce weight, feed him small portions of food or gradually switch to a diet with low calories. Other cats can lose weight as they get older because of a heart related disease, dental issues, and Diabetes. As cats age, a loss of appetite may be attributed to the cat losing its sense of taste. Whatever the issue regarding diet and weight, consult your vet.
Senior Cat Food Do’s & Don’ts
- Make sure you cat’s diet is tasty, balanced, digestible and rich in Potassium and Taurine.
- Rich sources of proteins and minerals should be avoided – the vet can guide you well to select the right type of food for your cat.
- You might need to increase the fibre content in your cat’s diet if your cat frequently suffers from constipation.
- Senior cats with poor appetite could be tempted by a slightly warm food at body temperature.
- Avoid feeding your cat snacks and table scraps in between meals.
The Best 10 Health Tips for Senior Cats
1- Checkups by a veterinarian should be increased to twice each year.
2- Educate yourself about the common diseases in old cats and their symptoms, so that you can identify them should they arise and to inform the vet immediately.
3- Feed your cat the best possible food you can manage and afford. One large meal a day is not recommended for older cats, so switch to several small meals a day.
4- Do not over feed your cats. Excess increase in weight causes obesity that underlines many serious health issues and decreases life expectancy.
5- Regular exercise is must for cats to maintain muscle tendency, protect bone and joint strength and shed off excess weight.
6- Dental cares is also very important, so brush teeth daily, and have it done professionally when advised by your vet.
7- Get your vet to conduct risk assessment to determine an appropriate vaccination for your cat.
8- Do your best to control fleas and intestinal worms. Make sure your cat’s surroundings including the play area, litter box and bedding are regularly washed and cleaned.
9- Weekly trimming of claws is important for older cats because they won’t use a scratching post as much anymore.
10- Your cat needs the attention, love and care, so do your best to keep them interested active and comfortable.