How to care for an elderly cat
As cats get older, owners need to pay more attention to their care routine, adapting and changing existing methods to ensure their cat is as comfortable as possible. It’s also important to track your cat’s behaviour to keep an eye out for any potential warning signs.
When should you start to consider any care changes? If your cat’s approaching the age of 11, or has shown any prior signs of aging, it’s worth starting to monitor and adapt your behaviour to cater for your cat's needs.
We’ve put together a list of changes you’ll need to be aware of and adopt:
Look for behaviour changes
Know your cat! It’s important to be vigilant to any behavioural changes taking place, so that you can monitor them. It may seem like the smallest adjustment in their behaviour, but it could indicate a much bigger underlying problem.
Things to look out for:
Do they seem to be struggling to hear?
Are they sleeping more?
Do they seem less energetic?
Are they more vocal?
Are they having issues with balance?
If you do notice these any of the above, make sure to let your vet know! Keep track of your cat’s movements in a behaviour log, this way you and the vet can better examine the gravity and timescale of any changes.
Give your cat extra care
As your cat gets older, it’s likely to want, and need, some extra care and attention.
Enjoy spending time with your elderly cat, and give it the attention it needs such as brushing and combing, as well as keeping their nails trim. This will also give you an opportunity to check your cat over for any lumps or bumps.
Encourage playtime! An older cat will still want to play, just ensure that you have appropriate toys and opt for gentler games.
Provide extra comfort! It’s worth considering changing their bedding to something softer to make them feel more comfortable, as well as thicker materials for more warmth.
Think about accessibility. Make it easier for your cat to reach their favourite areas of the house, such as window sills and perches with stools and ramps.
Add a supplement to their feed to offer them extra support.
Monitor your cat’s food
Just as with a younger cat, it’s important to know what, and how much, your cat is eating. A cat’s appetite is a great indicator of their wellbeing. Just as with any behaviour changes, track any differences that you notice in a log, so that you’re able to discuss this with the vet.
What warning signs should you be looking out for?
Have they lost their appetite?
Are they able to smell and taste food, and digest it properly?
Are they drinking more than usual?
If your cat isn’t eating as much as it should, or than it used to, trial giving them meals little and often. You may even need to experiment with different bowl sizes and shapes, as well as the temperature and environment in which they eat to encourage them to eat more.
You’ll also need to speak to your vet about any nutritional changes that need to take place for an elderly cat, to ensure that they have the right balance of nutrients for their specific needs.
Similarly, monitoring your cats toilet habits will become an important part of your care routine. It’s likely that with age your cat will experience increased toileting. Make sure that you have several, easily accessible litter boxes around the house to reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Your elderly cat will likely be using a litter box more frequently than before, and certainly toileting outside less. This gives you a good opportunity to monitor your cats' stools more easily. Track any changes in the colour and shape of stools and identify differences that could indicate an underlying issue. Keep this in your log, to discuss further with the vet!
Regularly monitor your cats weight
More so than when they were younger, unplanned weight gain and weight loss are a worry in an older cat. Significant weight gain could mean that your cat will be more prone to chronic diseases, whereas weight loss could be symptomatic of an underlying health issue. Regularly check in on your cat’s weight to determine any problems, and discuss any significant and quick weight gain or loss with your vet.
Schedule regular check-ups with the vet
To ensure that your elderly cat is getting the care it needs, it’s essential to have regular check-ups booked in with your vet. Even if your cat seems to be healthy, veterinary professionals will be able to notice any slight changes to your cat’s wellbeing and advise early treatments. They can also conduct dental checks which is more difficult for you to monitor; while you may be able to keep an eye out for any redness, bad breath or drooling, a vet is able to perform more thorough checks. Remember, the more frequent the trips the better! If your vet knows your cat well, they’ll be able to more easily identify any changes.
Other tips to help you care for your elderly cat
Monitoring your cat's behaviour is a crucial part of it’s care, but there are other changes you can make to make sure that your cat feels happy and fulfilled in its senior years.
Cat’s love a routine, and older cats love them even more. Make sure you choose one - and stick to it!
Make sure they still have some high perches to keep an eye on things, but provide ramps or stools so that they can reach them. It’s also a good idea to cover the area below in soft materials in case they fall.
Choose a horizontal scratching surface to make it easier for them to scratch!
If you haven’t already, get your cat microchipped, just in case they get lost!
Keep your cat physically and mentally stimulated with several places for them to hide, areas for them to climb, as well as lots of opportunities to play.
Making sure that you have the right schedule and tools in place to look after your elderly cat will make your time together far more enjoyable in their senior years. We hope our tips make you feel more confident and prepared in caring for your cat, but do speak to a vet for any further support and guidance.
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