As our beloved pets begin to hit their elderly stage of life, most pet parents begin to worry about ways to best take care of them. You obviously want to make sure your beloved companion stays as spry and comfortable as possible as they age. Rest easy: learning how to take care of an old cat really isn’t that complex.
Just follow these few tips, and you’ll help make it possible to enjoy great times with your pet during their golden years.
Elderly Cat Care: What You Need To Know
It’s incredible how much longer cats are living than just a few years ago. It’s not at all uncommon for a cat to not only live until a ripe old age, but also to stay relatively active during that time as well. Many cats still feel spry when they’re 15, 16, 17, or even older.1
But if you want to make sure that happens for your pet, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind. Doing so can help support your cat’s good health for a long time.
Schedule Wellness Examinations On A Regular Basis
If you’re a conscientious cat owner – and you must be if you’re taking the time to read this – then you more than likely already take your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup. If your cat is older, you should consider doing so every six months, rather than 12 months. An exam for an elderly cat will typically involve x-rays, blood tests, dental exams, and more.2
Give Your Cat Plenty Of Enrichment And Exercise
One of the biggest parts of learning how to care for a cat is to not be scared. Sure, elderly cats don’t have the same kind of energy they did when they were kittens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play with them. Actually, a moderate amount of play will help keep your cat energized and healthy – both physically and mentally.3
As your pet gets on in years, there will probably be a few accommodations you might need to make. For example, you might consider adding a carpeted ramp to help your pet climb. Animals with aging joints may sometimes need a little assistance. Instead of keeping their food dish and fresh water on a table, put them on the ground if you can.
Groom Your Cat Every Day
Grooming your cat becomes more important as your pet ages. It’s not only a great way to make your bond even stronger, it could also benefit their health. As cats get older, they have a harder time grooming themselves. This can be a pretty big problem, especially if you have a longhaired cat.4
Be alert to any discharge from your pet’s nose, eyes, or rectal area, and gently clean them with some damp cotton or a soft, damp cloth. When brushing your cat, make sure you use a soft brush. You’ll need to be careful, because older cats don’t have as much padding for their bones. If you’re too rough, it could be very painful.5
Pay Attention To Your Pet’s Diet And Eating Habits
It’s going to be even more essential that you keep a close eye on your cat’s food. Your vet will check your pet’s weight, and then recommend brands of pet food made specifically for senior cats. Many older cats benefit from smaller, more frequent meals, because they’re easier to digest – ask your vet to see if that will be the case for your pet.6
It’s also vital to pay attention to your cat’s water intake. An older cat is more prone to certain conditions that can affect the renal and gastrointestinal systems. This will especially be true for cats that aren’t properly hydrated. Make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water, and ask your vet about possibly changing your cat’s diet to canned food from dry food. Canned food will provide extra water.7
Provide A Sufficient Number Of Litter Boxes
If you have multiple cats, you already have multiple cat litter boxes. But a senior cat needs to have access to boxes in different parts of your home as well. Just like some older humans, elderly cats can sometimes have a health issue such as trouble controlling their bladder or bowels.8
It could also be hard for your aging cat to be able to climb into a regular litter box. If that’s the case, try to find one with lower sides. If need be, you can get a big cookie sheet with some litter inside. You’ll also want to make sure to put newspapers or puppy pads around the cookie sheet to pick up any litter or other types of messes.
Other Ways To Make Your Home Elderly Cat-Friendly
You don’t necessarily need to make drastic changes to your home to make it a more inviting, comfortable place for your elderly cat. For example, your cat still wants to jump on the windowsill and look outside, but it might be harder than it used to be. All you need to do is put a stool or a chair underneath the window. You could also get pet stairs to help.9
Many elderly cats like to spend a lot of time in peaceful, quiet areas. If you have kids or other pets who are very active, give your older fur baby a special place to get away from the chaos. This could mean setting up a “quiet area,” such as your guest bedroom, that’s off-limits to everyone else when your elderly cat is in there.10
All cats love a warm place to snooze. That’s even more the case when they’re older. If possible, set up a cozy cat bed near a heating vent, or by a window that lets in a lot of sun.11
Try To Stick With A Routine
It will also be a big help if you could try to remember to make a habit of feeding or playing with your senior cat at about the same time each day. Elderly cats can sometimes develop vision, hearing, or even cognitive problems. The fewer surprises they experience, the better off they’ll be.12
Should I Always Keep My Old Cat Inside?
The answer to this question is an emphatic, “Yes.” All cats should be inside whenever possible, in order to keep them protected from potential predators, other pets in the neighborhood, or other possible risks. If an older cat has problems hearing or seeing, they won’t be able to get to safety as easily as they once did.13
Comfort Is Key With Elderly Cat Care
If you have an elderly parent, then you know how essential it is to keep them as happy and comfortable as you can. The same applies to your senior cat. You’ve loved your pet for years, and you’re sad that your remaining time together may be short. But instead of dwelling on the sadness, appreciate that time, and get as much out of it as possible.
Sure, you might need to make a few changes, but they’ll be more than worth it – and remember, the bond you share with your beloved cat will last forever.